Category Archives: Referees in the Middle

Referees in the Middle: Alan Wilkie

Premier League Career: 1993-2000

First Premier League Match: Leeds United 1-1 Chelsea (24 March 1993)

Final Premier League Match: Manchester United 3-1 Tottenham Hotspur (6 May 2000)

Alan Wilkie’s Premier League career lasted for just over seven years. A strong-minded official, Wilkie’s time as a top-flight official is probably best associated with being the referee who sent off Eric Cantona at Selhurst Park in January 1995 on the night the temperamental Frenchman launched his kung-fu kick at a Crystal Palace supporter.

Like many of his colleagues and predecessors, Wilkie started out with ambitions of becoming a footballer. A serious knee injury meant his football playing dreams ended in the local leagues, so he turned his attention towards officiating instead. He became a Class 3 referee in 1977 and seven years later, became a linesman in the Football League.

Beginning to officiate as a referee occasionally in 1985, he became a permanent Football League official in 1988. His first match after receiving this promotion was a game in August 1988 in the Third Division between Mansfield Town and Northampton Town which finished 1-1.

Wilkie worked very closely with one of the best referees in the business in those days in Keith Hackett and in 1991, he was selected to run the line for Hackett in the European Cup semi-final, first leg between Marseille and Spartak Moscow. The French side won the first leg on home soil 3-1 and would eventually progress to the final, where they would lose on penalties to Red Star Belgrade.

Included on the list of Premier League referees towards the end of the 1992-1993 season, his first match in the competition came on 24th March 1993 when reigning top-flight champions Leeds United were held to a 1-1 draw by Chelsea at Elland Road. He didn’t take long to brandish his first red card in the competition either, dismissing Tony Cascarino of Chelsea in this match – one of 20 red cards he gave out in his 147 matches in the competition. Wilkie also handed out 428 yellow cards and awarded 27 penalties.

Wilkie, who continued as a Telecommunications electrical engineer throughout his referee days, endured a very busy 1994-1995 Premier League season. He took charge of 25 matches and with 68 yellows and five red cards; Wilkie was often in the centre of the action. In September 1994, Sol Campbell was sent off against Southampton for bringing down Neil Heaney with Spurs winning 1-0. Whilst the red card was probably correct, he also gave the Saints a penalty which was dubious as the foul seemed to start outside the penalty area. Southampton went on to win the match 2-1.

Two weeks later, he gave out a red card to Gordon Watson of Sheffield Wednesday after only six minutes of their game against Leeds United. It remains one of the fastest dismissals in Premier League history. Then in March 1995, he retired injured during the West Ham United vs. Norwich City fixture at Upton Park. One of his linesmen on the day, Martin Sims made a severe error by sending off the wrong Norwich player. He gave Andy Johnson his marching orders when Spencer Prior was the man who should have been dismissed. However, it was an incident two months earlier that would dominate Wilkie’s season.

In January 1995, Crystal Palace and Manchester United were playing at Selhurst Park when early in the second half, Eric Cantona kicked out at Palace defender Richard Shaw. The foul was spotted by Eddie Walsh and Wilkie had no hesitation and no option but to send Cantona off for the fifth time in his Manchester United career. As he was leaving the field, the Frenchman produced a kung-fu style kick at a Crystal Palace supporter who was taunting Cantona. Wilkie, who was talking to Andy Cole, later said: “It was only in the dressing room that one of the assistants told me what he had done.”

Wilkie became the first Premier League referee to handle 100 games in the competition. The match was his 10th appointment in the 1997-1998 season which was an uneventful 0-0 draw between Coventry City and Leeds United in October 1997. Three years later, he stepped out for his most prestigious appointment of his career which was the League Cup final involving Leicester City and Tranmere Rovers at Wembley. Sadly for Alan, he sustained a calf injury after 60 minutes and had to be replaced in Leicester’s 2-1 victory by the fourth official on that day, Phil Richards.

In his penultimate match, he endured a drama-filled afternoon between Bradford City and Derby County which ended in a 4-4 draw. Unbelievably, Wilkie gave four penalties and also sent off Rory Delap in the first half of this Good Friday goal fest at Valley Parade. His final Premier League match before retirement was the game in which Manchester United lifted their sixth Premier League title after beating Tottenham Hotspur 3-1 in May 2000.

In 2002, Wilkie published his autobiography with the title linked to the night he sent Cantona off at Selhurst Park. It was called “One Night at the Palace: A Referee’s Story.” He now acts as a match delegate for the Premier League and Football League and he also works for the FA as a regional manager for referees in North East England.

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Referees in the Middle: Uriah Rennie

Premier League Career: 1997-2008

First Premier League Match: Leeds United 0-2 Crystal Palace (23 August 1997)

Final Premier League Match: Tottenham Hotspur 0-2 Liverpool FC (11 May 2008)

In an 11-year Premier League career, Uriah Rennie took charge of 175 matches, dishing out 543 yellow cards and 30 red cards. Rennie was not afraid to stamp his authority on Premier League games and he certainly was not an official you would want to challenge a decision on as the likes of Roy Keane and even Alan Shearer can testify.

Rennie, who has a Masters degree in business administration and law, began refereeing in the local leagues in 1979 and then made the step up into the Northern Premier League. Appointed to the Football League list of referees in 1994, his first Premier League appointment came three years later for a fixture at Elland Road between Leeds United and Crystal Palace. Palace claimed a surprising 2-0 victory courtesy of goals in each half from Paul Warhurst and Attilio Lombardo.

Palace were also on the receiving end of the first red card Rennie gave out in the top-flight. The victim was Marc Edworthy, sent off in the first half of Crystal Palace’s 1-1 draw with Leicester in December 1997. Uriah had a busy first full season in the Premier League. In March 1998, he dismissed both Gudni Bergsson and Robert Ullathorne in the first half of a stormy match between Bolton Wanderers and Leicester City and a month later, he also handed Ole Gunnar Solskjaer his one and only English red card for a professional foul in the dying embers of Manchester United’s 1-1 draw with Newcastle United.

In 1999, he sent shockwaves around Tyneside by handing Newcastle United skipper Alan Shearer his first-ever Premier League red card on the opening weekend of the season against Aston Villa. The reason for Shearer’s dismissal was “persistent use of the elbow.” He threw away his captain’s armband in disgust and many felt that it was a harsh dismissal.

In 2001, Rennie joined the Select Group and received high praise from Keith Hackett, who was head of the PGMOB at the time. Hackett said Rennie was “the fittest referee we have ever seen on the national and world scene.” This was highlighted by the fact that in his spare time, he practiced both kick-boxing and aikido.

Outside of the Premier League, his biggest appointment was the 2001 Division One play-off final between Bolton Wanderers and Preston North End at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium. Rennie let the game flow without a single yellow or red card and Bolton won 3-0 with goals from Gareth Farrelly, Michael Ricketts and Ricardo Gardner. He made the FIFA list in 2000, remaining on their list for four years until reaching the compulsory retirement age of 45.

In 2002, Rennie was another official who ended up sending off Roy Keane during a Premier League match. In the closing stages of Manchester United’s trip to Sunderland, Keane was spotted throwing an elbow at his former international teammate Jason McAteer and handed a straight red card. There had been some needle between the two earlier in the contest, going back to when Keane famously walked out on the Republic of Ireland squad on the eve of the 2002 World Cup finals.

His last red card was dished out to Pedro Mendes in December 2006 in a 2-2 draw between Portsmouth and Aston Villa. His last Premier League game came on the final day of the 2007-2008 season between Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool FC.

After retirement, Rennie has kept a relatively low-profile but did appear on the BBC Two drama Marvellous in September 2014 and in August 2015, was the referee on the ITV daytime gameshow Freeze Out which was presented by Mark Durden-Smith.

Referees in the Middle: Dermot Gallagher

Premier League Career: 1992-2007

First Premier League Match: Tottenham Hotspur 0-2 Coventry City (19 August 1992)

Final Premier League Match: Liverpool FC 2-2 Charlton Athletic (13 May 2007)

Irishman Dermot Gallagher was one of the best referees in Premier League history. He was an official for the first 15 seasons of the league before retiring in 2007 and is still seen a lot nowadays, working as an assessor and pundit on all of the weekend’s major talking points for Sky Sports.

Gallagher was born in 1957 but was late to the take up of a career in officiating. It was only on the advice of ex-Football League linesman Dick Bartlett that saw Dermot pursue this path. His first game of any kind came in regional football in 1978 and seven years later, he progressed to the Football League assistant referees’ list. By 1990, he was a referee in the Football League and was a prime candidate for promotion to the Premier League when the new era of English football got underway in 1992.

He wasn’t appointed to a fixture on the opening weekend of the league but took charge of a midweek duel between Tottenham Hotspur and Coventry City at White Hart Lane. John Williams scored both goals as the Sky Blues left London with all three points after a 2-0 win. It was the first of 378 fixtures Gallagher would oversee during his lengthy and successful career.

Dermot gave out 636 yellow cards during his Premier League time and 39 red cards – nine of those dismissals in his penultimate campaign (2005-2006). Here’s a list of some of his key dismissals:

  • His first red card came in February 1994 and it went to a goalkeeper. Bryan Gunn was given a straight red in the 87th minute of Norwich City’s 2-2 home draw with Liverpool FC.
  • On the opening day of the 1994-1995 campaign, he gave out two red cards in the Manchester United vs. Queens Park Rangers fixture with Clive Wilson and Paul Parker being the unfortunate recipients.
  • In a thrilling 3-3 draw between Newcastle United and Tottenham Hotspur in May 1995, Dermot dished out red cards to Newcastle goalkeeper Pavel Srnicek and Spurs defender Colin Calderwood.
  • Matt Le Tissier collected a rare red card in his career from Gallagher. He was red-carded in a 3-1 home defeat for Southampton against Liverpool FC in October 1995.
  • Chris Sutton received his marching orders late on in Blackburn’s home defeat by Arsenal in October 1998 for a wild lunge on Patrick Vieira.
  • Back at Ewood Park two months later, a straight red card was given to Aston Villa goalkeeper Michael Oakes in their 2-1 loss to Blackburn for handling outside his area.
  • Liverpool FC’s Salif Diao was sent off on New Years’ Day 2003 in the Reds 1-0 reverse at Newcastle United.
  • Defender Stephane Henchoz was the final recipient of a red card in Gallagher’s Premier League career. He was dismissed after just 40 minutes of Blackburn’s 3-1 home defeat to Newcastle United in December 2006.

Gallagher’s strongest years were in 1995 and 1996. He took charge of the curtain-raiser for the 1995-1996 season between league champions Blackburn Rovers and FA Cup holders Everton. The Toffees won the FA Charity Shield thanks to a goal from Vinny Samways. Also in 1995, he was in the middle for the FA Trophy final which Woking won at Wembley, beating Kidderminster Harriers 2-1 and to finish a busy year, Dermot went out to Qatar and took charge of the Under-20 World Cup final between South American rivals Argentina and Brazil. Argentina triumphed 2-0.

In 1996, he was appointed to the FA Cup final between Manchester United and Liverpool FC. It was a day best remembered by Liverpool’s terrible choice of suit colour before the game and the match itself was a real disappointment. We were spared extra-time by a late winner from Eric Cantona, ensuring a second double in three years for the Red Devils. Gallagher’s strong performances also led to him being appointed as a referee at the 1996 European Championships in England. He took charge of the group game at St James’ Park between France and Bulgaria. France won 3-1 and he booked four players but there was a nasty sting in the tail for him. He suffered a serious injury whilst refereeing the match which kept him on the sidelines until early 1997.

He retired from FIFA duty at the mandatory retirement age limit of 45 at the end of 2002 but continued at the high levels of the English game. His extremely consistent performances led to him being the first referee since 1994 to be granted an extension beyond the domestic retirement age of 48 in 2006.

In his final season in the middle, Gallagher had one of his more testing incidents to deal with. In August 2006, Manchester City defender Ben Thatcher was widely condemned for a sickening elbow into Portsmouth midfielder Pedro Mendes during a goalless draw at Eastlands. Mendes was knocked into the advertising hoardings and knocked unconscious. He suffered a seizure and required oxygen pitchside. Gallagher only gave the defender a yellow card for the elbow but the FA took a dim view to the challenge and gave Thatcher an eight-game suspension. He was also fined six weeks’ wages by Manchester City.

His last Premier League match was at Anfield in May 2007 between Liverpool FC and Charlton Athletic which was also the swansong for Robbie Fowler as a Liverpool player. The match ended 2-2 with Harry Kewell scoring a stoppage-time penalty for the Reds.

After retirement, Dermot Gallagher officiated in the Masters Football competition for several years. Alongside his regular Monday role on Sky Sports News to discuss the performance of his colleagues from challenging Premier League weekends, he is also an active speaker on both the after-dinner circuit and at coaching schools, offering advices to younger footballers and referees.

Referees in the Middle: Joe Worrall

Premier League Career: 1992-1995

First Premier League Match: Blackburn Rovers 1-0 Arsenal (18 August 1992)

Final Premier League Match: Chelsea 2-1 Arsenal (14 May 1995)

Joe Worrall from Warrington in Cheshire was another official in the early Premier League Years who benefited from the new era in English football and was able to extend his career longer than anticipated. Worrall was an authoritative figure in the middle during the 1980s and in his 60 Premier League matches he took charge of between 1992 and 1995, he actually didn’t produce a single red card. These statistics show he was placed in high regard by managers, players and supporters.

Worrall was just 19 when he took up the referee’s whistle in 1964. Like many of his colleagues and predecessors, he began in the local environment, officiating in the Warrington and District Football League. After progression into the Cheshire Association Football League, Worrall was appointed a linesman in the Football League in 1973 and three years later, had made the full Referees List. He would be a senior figure then in the referee world for nearly 20 years.

Worrall’s respect went further than the English game. Appointed as a FIFA ref in 1981, he would take charge of international qualifiers and club continental matches until stepping down in 1992 due to reaching the age limit criteria. His last appointment on the European scene was definitely the most prestigious of his career which was to take charge of the 1992 UEFA Cup final between Dutch giants Ajax and Italian club Torino. In these days, the UEFA Cup final was held over two legs, so Worrall was only in control of the first leg which took place in Turin. The match finished 2-2 and ultimately, it was a talented Ajax side who claimed the prize. A goalless draw in the second leg saw them triumph on the away goals rule.

In England, he did both the League Cup and FA Cup final and both in the late 1980s. In 1988, he was in the middle when Luton Town produced a heroic comeback to stun Arsenal 3-2 in the League Cup final. Arsenal were leading 2-1 with 10 minutes to go when he gave a spot-kick to the Gunners but Nigel Winterburn failed to convert the chance. The Hatters went on to score two late goals to snatch the trophy. A year later, he stepped out on an emotional afternoon at Wembley for the all-Merseyside FA Cup final between Liverpool FC and Everton. The game was played just over a month after the Hillsborough disaster when 96 Liverpool supporters attended an FA Cup semi-final against Nottingham Forest and didn’t come home. In a highly-charged atmosphere, Worrall had a good game, staying out of the limelight whilst the two teams put on a great spectacle for those witnessing and in memory of those lost. Liverpool won the FA Cup with Ian Rush scoring the decisive goal in a 3-2 victory after extra time.

Appointed as a Premier League referee when the new league came into existence in 1992, Worrall was only meant to take charge in the first two campaigns before reaching the retirement age. His strong performances though meant he was granted a one-year extension and even when strong new tackling laws came into force after the 1994 World Cup finals in the United States, Worrall didn’t give out lots of yellow cards unlike many of his other colleagues at the time. In fact, the most yellow cards he ever gave out in a Premier League game was three which was in a 2-0 victory for West Ham United over Southampton in October 1994.

Worrall retired at the end of the 1994-1995 season with his final game coming on the final day, overseeing Chelsea’s 2-1 victory over Arsenal which meant they finished above the Gunners in the final standings. However, his involvement in football continued after his retirement for several years, as he became a match delegate and referees’ assessor.

Referees in the Middle: Allan Gunn

Premier League Career: 1992-1994

First Premier League Match: Arsenal 2-4 Norwich City (15 August 1992)

Final Premier League Match: Tottenham Hotspur 1-2 Queens Park Rangers (7 May 1994)

Allan Gunn was the first-ever referee to officiate in the Premier League past his 50th birthday. He was 51 when he took charge of Queens Park Rangers’ 2-1 victory over Tottenham Hotspur on the final day of the 1993-1994 season. It was his last match before retirement.

Based in Sussex during his time as a referee, Gunn became a Football League linesman in 1974 and within three years, he had been promoted to the full Referees List. His mentor throughout the early years of his refereeing career was Alan Robinson and he was senior linesman for Robinson during the all-Merseyside Derby FA Cup final in 1986. Robinson retired that summer and Gunn stepped up to replace him on both the FIFA list and the possession of some key domestic games.

Allan’s first major showpiece event was the Associate Members’ Cup final in 1987 between Mansfield Town and Bristol City. This was the first cup final in England where the outcome was settled by a penalty shootout. Two years later, he was given the Full Members’ Cup final which was a short-lived competition between the clubs from the top two divisions whilst English clubs were banned from participating in Europe. Later that summer, he controlled the Charity Shield between Arsenal and Liverpool FC and in 1990, it was his opportunity to referee the FA Cup final.

Crystal Palace played Manchester United in the final and the first game was a thrilling 3-3 draw before the Red Devils won a low-key replay 1-0 to give Alex Ferguson his first major honour as United manager. Whilst his career in England flourished, he never quite achieved the upper echelons of the international spectrum. His highest-profile appointment was a World Cup qualifier between Portugal and Switzerland in April 1989. Portugal won the match 3-1 but neither side qualified for the finals in Italia 90.

Originally, Gunn was due to retire in 1991 but his high levels of performance meant he was granted an extension and allowed to continue refereeing. He did stand down from the FIFA list but continued to play his part in English officiating. In 1993, he took charge of his final major final which was Arsenal’s 2-1 victory over Sheffield Wednesday in the League Cup final.

Early in 1994, he announced he was going to retire at the age of 51 after a 17-year career on the Referees List. In total, he took control of 37 Premier League matches, handing out 38 yellow cards at almost 1 booking per game. Also, he didn’t give out a red card during his two-season spell as a Premier League referee.

In 2000, he accepted an offer from the FA to become a member of a 12-person video panel that would review match events and disciplinary matters. These involved former referees, players and managers who were no longer connected directly within the game. This meant he worked alongside the likes of former Premier League managers Roy Evans and Mike Walker, plus ex-official Gary Willard. Each week, three of the 12 personnel would look at incidents around the country and would then make recommendations on what course of action should be taken through communication with Adam Crozier, who was FA chief executive at the time. One example of an amendment change came when Gary McAllister’s red card was rescinded at Highbury in 2000 during his early days as a Liverpool FC player.

Allan Gunn died aged 60 on 27th May 2004.

Referees in the Middle: Graham Scott

Premier League Career: 2014-PRESENT

First Premier League Match: Burnley 1-1 Aston Villa (29 November 2014)

Graham Scott is one of the current breed of Premier League officials and he is now into his sixth season as a top-flight official. Educated at Abingdon School in his early life, Scott has actually been a referee now for over 20 years and has worked hard to make his way onto the Select Group of officials.

In his youth days, Graham was an amateur footballer and played as a goalkeeper for Abingdon Town FC. He was forced to retire from playing the game at the age of 27 after a persistent back injury which was threatening longer-term damage. So, having to give up the dream of playing the game, Scott elected to officiate and therefore, keep his ambition of being involved in the English top-flight alive.

Beginning out in the lower leagues like many of his peers, Scott took charge of his first match in 1997 but initially, seemed reluctant to progress up the referees’ ladder. Players though like his approach to the game and he is another official who will do what he can to allow matches to flow rather than break them up and book players for every small foul that takes place in a match.

Joining the National List of referees in 2008, he took charge of a host of important games in the Football League and in November 2014, he refereed his first Premier League match at Turf Moor between Burnley and Aston Villa. He awarded Burnley a late penalty in the game, converted by Danny Ings for the match to end in a 1-1 draw.

On the eve of the 2015-2016 Premier League season, Graham Scott earned promotion to the Select Group, replacing Chris Foy who had retired at the end of the previous campaign. He has had to battle hard to keep his place, especially at the end of the 2016-2017 season when he took charge of only eight Premier League matches. Former official Keith Hackett has been critical in the past of his promotion but Scott enjoyed a rise through the ranks in 2017-2018, taking charge of 20 Premier League matches and a League Cup semi-final tie between Bristol City and Manchester City.

As of the March 2019 international break, Scott has taken control of 15 games this season, shown 35 yellow cards and only one red card this season which was to Etienne Capoue of Watford in their 2-0 defeat to Leicester City in December. Watford appealed the dismissal but this was rejected by the FA Commission. He has shown six red cards so far in his 48-game Premier League career. The first recipient of a dismissal from Scott was Swansea City right-back Kyle Naughton who was red-carded in the first half of their 4-2 home defeat by Sunderland in January 2016. When not required for Premier League duty, he still takes control of his fair share of high-profile games in the SkyBet EFL Championship.

Strict on cutting out dissent, diving and time-wasting, Graham Scott is rising through the ranks and proving any doubters of his ability wrong. He has the potential to become a mainstay of Premier League refereeing for the next several seasons.

Referees in the Middle: Keren Barratt

Premier League Career: 1992-1994

First Premier League Match: Manchester United 0-3 Everton (19 August 1992)

Final Premier League Match: Oldham Athletic 1-2 West Ham United (15 April 1994)

The arrival of the Premier League in 1992 gave Keren Barratt the opportunity to continue in the top-flight for the first two seasons of the new era in English football. He spent 13 years as a referee before retiring in 1994.

Based in the Midlands during his time as referee, he became a Football League linesman in 1979 and his progression was swift. Within two years, he was on the Referees List. By the late 1980s, Barratt was taking charge of many games in the old First Division so his experience was vital in the new generation of officials that were emerging when the Premier League was born.

His first game in the Premier League was in the first midweek round of fixtures and it produced one of the early surprises of the season as Everton recorded a fabulous 3-0 away victory over Manchester United at Old Trafford. He finished the season with the ultimate accolade for any official by taking charge of the 1993 FA Cup final at Wembley Stadium between Arsenal and Sheffield Wednesday. The original final finished 1-1 and five days later, Barratt took control of what turned out to be the final-ever FA Cup final replay. Arsenal won the replay 2-1 thanks to a late header from Andy Linighan, ensuring the Gunners beat the Owls in both domestic cup finals in this season.

Barratt’s career continued into the 1993-1994 Premier League season and he showed his only two red cards in his PL career in this season. First dismissal came for Queens Park Rangers defender Karl Ready in the 87th minute of a narrow 1-0 victory at The Dell against Southampton in December 1993. The other unfortunate victim of a red card from Barratt was John Polston of Norwich City – dismissed for two yellow cards before half-time of a 2-2 draw between the Canaries and Blackburn Rovers in February 1994.

Since retirement, he has worked as a referees’ assessor during matches for the FA and has also been working as the PGMOL referees Select Group Manager, first alongside Keith Hackett and now, under Mike Riley.

Sometimes, experience is vitally important and Keren Barratt’s career means he is a wise head in his current role today.

Referees in the Middle: Bobby Madley

Premier League Career: 2013-2018

First Premier League Match: Southampton 0-3 West Bromwich Albion (27 April 2013)

Final Premier League Match: Everton 1-0 Newcastle United (23 April 2018)

18 months ago, Bobby Madley was seen as one of the finest officials in the Premier League. Not afraid of giving tough decisions but also importantly, allowing games to flow as best as possible; Madley had a reputation that was growing rapidly. Unfortunately, a difficult 2017-2018 season was followed by his mysterious departure from the English game. He is now attempting to rebuild his career away from the limelight in Norway.

Still only 33, Madley was one of the youngest-ever referees to take control of a Premier League match and he’d started his career in officiating as young as 16 in the Wakefield and District League. In 2010, still only 25, he joined the National List of referees who officiate in the Football League.

Promotion to the Premier League Select Group list was looking likely but before this, he got what turned out to be a tougher match than what many had anticipated. In April 2013, Bobby’s first fixture was at St Mary’s between Southampton and West Bromwich Albion. It was a fixture that had little to play for in regards to the final significant outcomes in the Premier League season. West Brom won the game 3-0 but Madley incredibly ending up sending off three players. An ugly confrontation between Southampton’s Gaston Ramirez and Marc-Antoine Fortune of West Bromwich Albion saw both dismissed in the 70th minute. 11 minutes later, Southampton left-back Danny Fox was also red-carded for serious foul play. He was praised though by West Brom manager Steve Clarke, who said “all three red cards were correct.”

He was promoted to the Select Group that summer and between the start of the 2013-2014 season and April 2018, he took charge of 92 matches, producing 305 yellow cards and 13 red cards. Five of those red cards came in 2015-2016 including ugly tackles from Valon Behrami of Watford and Everton’s Ramiro Funes Mori in games against Swansea City and Liverpool FC respectively. He made the FIFA referee list in January 2016 and took charge of the FA Community Shield in 2017 between London rivals, Arsenal and Chelsea.

Bobby’s tricky 2017-2018 campaign began with his second appointment which was a game between Manchester City and Everton. Both Kyle Walker and Morgan Schneiderlin were dismissed in the 1-1 draw and Walker’s dismissal divided opinion. Former official Graham Poll was scathing in his assessment afterwards, saying: “The bottom line is that this ref is not good enough and this game was too big for him.”

A month later, he waved away a penalty claim which looked clear-cut for West Bromwich Albion in a 2-0 loss at The Emirates against Arsenal before taking charge of a Boxing Day match between AFC Bournemouth and West Ham United that ended 3-3. Seven yellow cards were handed out and he gave Bournemouth a controversial equaliser despite hints of an offside and a handball by goalscorer, Callum Wilson.

Another strong critic was Mark Halsey. In December 2017, he said: “He is having a poor season for an international official – he is making far too many key big-match errors. I think that is down to his lack of fitness – he looks overweight and that is affecting his performances.”

In August 2018, news came through that Madley had suddenly quit when he “decided to relocate due to a change in his personal circumstances.” It was an announcement that surprised many of his colleagues. Reports emerged later in the month which suggested Madley had been dismissed after some activity on the social media application Snapchat that was considered inappropriate. For now at least, his English refereeing career looks to be over.

In December 2018, he gave his first interview following his departure from the English game to The Daily Mail and has now relocated with his girlfriend to Oslo where is he now refereeing in the sixth tier of Norwegian football. He said: “I have never done this for the money. Coming to Norway was never about the money, but a new start for me.”

It is a new start for Bobby Madley. Presuming he doesn’t return to officiating in the English game again, he does have the ability to get back to the top in another country.

Referees in the Middle: Martin Atkinson

Premier League Career: 2005-PRESENT

First Premier League Match: Manchester City 3-0 Birmingham City (20 April 2005)

Martin Atkinson is one of the leading officials in today’s batch of Premier League referees. Since Howard Webb’s retirement, Atkinson, along with Michael Oliver has often been seen as setting the standard for officiating which is why he is highly regarded by his fellow peers.

Born in Bradford, Atkinson is a member of the West Riding County Football Association and he made his first appearance as an official in the Football League as an assistant referee in 1995. At this point, refereeing was already a major part of his background. He was already officiating in local games at the relatively early age of just 16, largely because the local team did not have a referee to look after hard-fought matches.

At the turn of the millennium, Atkinson was promoted to the Select Group of assistant referees and by December 2002, he was often the man in the middle in highly-charged games in the Football Conference. At the start of the 2003-2004 season, he joined the National List of referees and showed he wasn’t one of those officials who feel that waving cards around on a regular basis will calm down the temperature levels in an encounter that could get out of control. This was highlighted further by him having the distinction of not sending off any player from the field of play between August 2004 and October 2005.

Martin received promotion to the list of Select Group Referees in 2005 and he has since refereed a number of notable matches, including the finals of the FA Cup, League Cup and UEFA Europa League. His first Premier League game came on 20th April 2005, taking charge of the Manchester City vs. Birmingham City fixture at Eastlands. He booked one player and awarded the home side a penalty kick, converted by Antoine Sibierski in the 86th minute in Manchester City’s 3-0 win.

During the three seasons between 2003 and 2006, Atkinson issued only eight red cards in 102 matches which was an average of less than 0.08 per game. The first player to receive a red card from Atkinson in a Premier League match was Darren Moore. The defender was dismissed before half-time in West Bromwich Albion’s 1-0 away win at Wigan Athletic in January 2006 for two yellow cards. 12 years later, Moore would get his chance as manager of the Baggies.

His first major final was the 2006 FA Community Shield at The Millennium Stadium in Cardiff. Liverpool FC defeated Chelsea 2-1. Two years later, he took charge of the FA Trophy final at Wembley Stadium which was between Ebbsfleet United and Torquay United. Atkinson’s most successful season came back in 2009-2010, when he took control of 48 matches across the major English divisions. That remains his highest tally of appointments to-date.

The 2010-2011 season started with some controversy for Martin. In a thrilling encounter between Everton and Manchester United in September 2010, the home side scored twice in stoppage-time to make the score 3-3. Whilst Everton streamed forward in their pursuit of a winner, Atkinson blew the whistle for full-time and David Moyes was incensed. The FA sided with Moyes and handed Atkinson a one-week demotion to the role of fourth official. It was a minor blemish on his record.

Later that season, he got the FA Cup final which saw Manchester City beat Stoke City 1-0 to end their trophy drought. It wasn’t the most enthralling of contests but Atkinson controlled the game fantastically well and only brandished the yellow card twice throughout – both to Stoke players. He was a lucky omen in finals for Manchester City because three years later, he took charge of their League Cup final victory over Sunderland.

Appointed to the list of FIFA referees in 2006, Martin took charge of the 2015 UEFA Europa League final which was one of the many recent attempts that have seen Sevilla take the trophy home with them after winning 3-2 against Dnipro. He’s been a regular on the UEFA circuit since the 2008-2009 season. He was fourth official to Webb for the 2010 UEFA Champions League final in Madrid and has often been used in major knockout matches.

In international football, he went to EURO 2012 as an additional assistant referee in a team where Webb was once again the central referee. He stepped out of the limelight for the 2016 European Championships, taking charge of Germany’s 2-0 victory over Ukraine in the group stages. However, he missed out on the 2018 World Cup finals in Russia after FIFA elected to overlook English officials at the world’s greatest international competition for the first time since 1938.

Atkinson is still seen as one of the best in this country but even he can have difficult days. He took charge of the April 2018 Manchester Derby at The Etihad Stadium where he handed out nine yellow cards and struggled to control the match between the two Manchester rivals. He also ignored claims for a penalty for the home side after Ashley Young caught Sergio Aguero with a fairly wild challenge. His performance was severely criticised by former Premier League official Keith Hackett who stated: “If you want proof of why no English referee will be represented at this summer’s World Cup finals in Russia, look no further than Martin Atkinson’s performance at The Etihad.”

However, Martin Atkinson will remain one of the best officials in the current game for some time to come. Everyone will have their critics but 99% of the time, he often allows games to flow and therefore, the quality is better because of it.

Referees in the Middle: Jon Moss

Premier League Career: 2011-PRESENT

First Premier League Match: Blackpool 1-2 Birmingham City (4 January 2011)

Jon Moss was promoted to the Select Group of Referees in 2011. He has often been in the firing line since with football supporters across the country. Moss is one of those officials who will have some great games but is probably going to divide general opinion on some of the key decisions that can affect the course of crucial matches throughout any given season.

Although he is now based in Horsforth, West Yorkshire, Moss was born in Sunderland and grew up in the North East. He is a member of the West Riding County Football Association. He grew up as an avid footballer and won a football scholarship at Central Connecticut State University in the United States. However, he completed his studies with a degree in physical education and teaching at the University of Leeds.

Playing junior football at academy level, Moss admitted in a 2015 interview: “I was a competitive midfield player and I liked to tackle. Sometimes you mistime a tackle and you get the attention of the referee – but I was always polite!”

He played in the juniors at his hometown club Sunderland and then for Millwall. However, his studies meant he stopped playing as travelling to London became too much of an interference. It was during his A-level studies that Jon began to focus more on refereeing, taking courses to enhance his training and development. He fully qualified as a referee way back in 1988. However, it wasn’t until just before the end of the 20th century that he elected to forget his dream of playing the game and concentrated on refereeing it instead.

After progressing through the Northern Counties East League and Northern Premier League, he reached the National Group of assistant referees in 2003. It was from this point that progress started to gain momentum. Appointed to referee the 2005 Conference play-off final between Stevenage and Carlisle United, Jon was then promoted to the National Group of Referees who take charge of the three divisions in the Football League. His first game at this level was a League Two match between Shrewsbury Town and Rochdale.

Moss had four years of experience at this level before being appointed to a Premier League game for the first time. The match was between Wigan Athletic and Aston Villa in December 2010. However, a deluge of snow and freezing temperatures in the week before Christmas led to the match being one of seven Premier League postponements across the weekend. Jon had to wait a fortnight for his big break before being selected for Birmingham City’s visit to Blackpool in January 2011. After this audition, he was added to the Select Group in-time for the start of the 2011-2012 season alongside Neil Swarbrick.

It was only his third Premier League match when he handed out his first red card. That went to the late Steve Gohouri who was dismissed for two yellow cards in Wigan Athletic’s 2-1 home defeat to Tottenham Hotspur in September 2011. Three years later, he awarded no fewer than four spot-kicks during Manchester City’s 4-1 success over Spurs, also sending off Federico Fazio in the same match. That remains a record for most spot-kicks to be awarded in a Premier League game. In fact, he handed out eight red cards in-total in the 2014-2015 season and as of the November 2018 international break, he had taken charge of 181 matches, handing out 623 yellow cards at an average of 3.44 cautions per game.

28 times the red card has come out of his back pocket. Among those to be dismissed in high-profile matches were Jamie Vardy for simulation in Leicester’s feisty 2-2 draw with West Ham United in April 2016 and Sadio Mane for a dangerous challenge on Manchester City goalkeeper Ederson during an encounter at The Etihad Stadium in September 2017 which Pep Guardiola’s side went on to win 5-0.

In 2015, Moss was the referee for Arsenal’s 4-0 victory over Aston Villa in the FA Cup final. Jon Moss might not be liked by everyone within the game but as a referee, you have to be strong and not show any weakness in making key decisions. He is not shy of being forced to make these tough judgements, even if that means he sometimes can make the headlines more than the players.

Referees in the Middle: Andy D’Urso

Premier League Career: 1999-2005

First Premier League Match: Sheffield Wednesday 1-2 Tottenham Hotspur (21 August 1999)

Final Premier League Match: Fulham 3-3 Aston Villa (28 December 2005)

Andy D’Urso blew the final whistle on his professional refereeing career at the end of the 2014-2015 season. However, he hadn’t been involved in the Premier League since December 2005 and his career in the top-flight effectively ended in a similar way to Graham Poll’s international dreams – only he didn’t show three yellow cards, he just didn’t send a player off for two bookings.

Based in Billericay, Essex, he is a member of the Barking & Dagenham Referees Society and was promoted onto the Premier League officials list in time for the 1999-2000 season. When he received his promotion, D’Urso had gathered five years of useful experience in the Football League.

In total, he took charge of 119 Premier League matches; the first appointment was at Hillsborough in August 1999 when Tottenham Hotspur won 2-1 away at Sheffield Wednesday. Later that season, he was involved in his first major controversy when taking charge of a game at Old Trafford between Manchester United and Middlesbrough.

D’Urso bravely awarded the visitors a penalty when Juninho was fouled by Jaap Stam. It was the first spot-kick given to a visiting team in the Premier League at Old Trafford since December 1993. The Red Devils were furious and chased after D’Urso, led by skipper Roy Keane. Nicky Butt, Denis Irwin, Stam, Ryan Giggs and David Beckham were all seen to be using behaviour that even led Manchester United to question their own conduct. Andy stuck to his principles but the penalty was ultimately saved and United won the game 1-0. The media showed the incident on a regular basis in the weeks that followed and it was the first major sign that the ‘Respect’ campaign between players and officials had been placed into great scrutiny.

D’Urso later said: “It was my first season in the Premier League, my first time refereeing Manchester United and my first time at Old Trafford. With more experience I would have stood my ground. I kept saying ‘go away,’ but the further back I walked the more they walked on. A more experienced referee would not have retreated. But there are no grudges. I’ve refereed Roy Keane on a number of occasions since without a problem.”

His worst moment came in a game between Southampton and Blackburn Rovers in August 2004 which the Saints won 3-2. Blackburn skipper Barry Ferguson scored in the match but was shown two yellow cards by D’Urso during the contest. However, he wasn’t sent off. He acknowledged the error in his match report and a red card was later included onto Ferguson’s disciplinary record.

However, the FA took a dim view to this incident and suspended him from refereeing duty for 28 days. He vowed to carry on with his career and successfully won an appeal against his decision to be relegated from the Select Group of officials. However, his regular days in the Premier League were over. His last match in the top-flight was a 3-3 draw in December 2005 between Fulham and Aston Villa.

D’Urso continued his career back in the Football League and in his final professional season, he became the first official to referee at every club in the top four divisions of English football when he took charge of the League Two encounter between Newport County AFC and Morecambe at Rodney Parade.

Referees in the Middle: Philip Don

Premier League Career: 1992-1995

First Premier League Match: Sheffield Wednesday 2-0 Nottingham Forest (19 August 1992)

Final Premier League Match: Blackburn Rovers 1-0 Newcastle United (8 May 1995)

Former school headteacher Philip Don was one of the Premier League’s stricter referees during its early inception. He wouldn’t take any verbal jousting from players and despite some notable achievements, his approach to the game after retirement from the middle in 1995 led to conflicts with other officials.

Originally from Sheffield, Don’s teaching career took him to Middlesex and this came at a time when referees were not considered to be a full-time occupation. By the age of 28, he had become a Football League linesman and became a referee in the top-flight in 1986.

He was promoted to the FIFA list in 1992 and his progress meant Philip often got the top matches or the most intensely scrutinised games in the Football League. In the same year, he took charge of the FA Cup final as Liverpool FC defeated Second Division Sunderland 2-0 at Wembley Stadium in what turned out to be Graeme Souness’ only honour as Reds manager.

Don got an even bigger milestone in 1994 when despite only having two years’ experience at international level; he was awarded the UEFA Champions League final. Dutchman John Blankenstein was initially the chosen individual to take charge of the showpiece in European club football which would take place in Athens that season between AC Milan and Barcelona. When he withdrew, Don stepped in and coped brilliantly in such an intimidating atmosphere. AC Milan didn’t mind the appointment, as they put in a riveting display to defeat Johan Cruyff’s team of superstars 4-0.

A few weeks later, he was England’s representative at the World Cup finals in the United States. With the national team having failed to qualify, Don was one of only a few Englishmen to be at the tournament (alongside coaches Jack Charlton and Roy Hodgson). He got two matches in the finals, which included Sweden’s penalty shootout triumph in the quarter-finals against Romania.

The 1994-1995 season would be his last, retiring five years earlier than he needed to. With full-time refereeing still a while away, he had to make a choice and his commitments as a headteacher meant the final whistle was blown on his refereeing career earlier than what many would have anticipated. In his final campaign, he took charge of the 1995 League Cup final between Bolton Wanderers and Liverpool FC.

Whilst teaching was his main passion, Philip was keen to change the way referees earned their living. He became Head of Refereeing at The FA towards the end of the 1990s and was the main man behind the new Select Group in 2001 which allowed referees to turn professional full-time and give up their other commitments. His persuasion and determination to ensure the job became a full-time role deserves widespread praise. It has made life easier for many upcoming youngsters. However, not everyone was happy with the change.

David Elleray, who had his own teaching career at Harrow preferred to maintain this and not turn professional leading to a series of disagreements with Don. His hard-line guidelines such as goalkeepers not being allowed to move off the goal-line during a penalty situation didn’t go down well with many officials. An example of this came in September 2003 when Leeds United goalkeeper Paul Robinson made a brilliant save against Birmingham City. However, for moving an inch off his line, the penalty was retaken and Birmingham scored from the second opportunity. Dermot Gallagher who gave the controversial decision looked uneasy when surrounded by Leeds players. He was following Don’s guidelines but it was clear he wasn’t comfortable with them. Don was eventually replaced in his role as Head of Refereeing by Keith Hackett with the general feeling that he’d gone as far as possible in the job.

He might have only taken charge of 60 Premier League matches but Philip Don was an outstanding referee and had it not been for him, referees might not have ever had the option to go full-time. However, his authoritative approach to the game wasn’t always appreciated by his fellow compatriots.